Pretoria - The Blue Bulls may have been given a boost with the news that Boks Jano Vermaak and Jacques Potgieter have been released from the national side to join them this week, but it comes as they are absorbing a possible double blow ahead of a crucial game against the Free State Cheetahs this coming weekend.
According to the supersport.com website, the return of the two Boks will be a welcome sight for beleaguered coach Pine Pienaar, under the cosh after losing three games in a row and in very danger of having to face a relegation battle against the EP Kings at the end of the season.
The double blow comes after prop Dawie Steyn was ruled out with a calf strain for a week and the imminent return of wing Bjorn Basson was put on hold after a family member passed away. Basson is unlikely to be considered for action this week because of his bereavement.
The Bulls also need to figure out if Arno Botha is ready for action after missing last week’s predicted return with a hamstring injury.
Either way, the injuries are probably the last thing on Pienaar’s mind at the moment, especially with the Bulls looking down the barrel in the tournament at the moment.
The best thing that could have happened after their loss on Saturday, was the defeat at the hands of the Lions for the Cheetahs, which gave the Bulls some breathing room to still make their way back into the competition with four rounds left.
Still, the Cheetahs, only two points ahead of them in fifth place, are also smarting after three consecutive losses and will be equally desperate to break their streak at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Either way, both sides are in a must-win situation and defeat would leave them precariously placed with three weeks left in the tournament.
The prospect for either to play a promotion-relegation match to ensure their survival will not be a good one, and with Pienaar already in a precarious position, a victory is almost non-negotiable for the side.
However, it must be noted that the departure of John McFarland to the Boks has seen the Bulls defence fall apart, with the team conceding four or more tries in each of the three defeats.